The Final Days of Session

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As the Session shifts into its final days, there are a few legislative procedures that can make things more interesting.  One is the “hoghouse” amendment, where the original language of a bill is replaced with entirely new language.  Legislative rules state that the amendment must be germane to the title of the bill, which explains why some bills have vague titles.  The interesting part is when the amended version doesn’t look at all like the original bill.

One example is SB86, which was brought in by Senator Partridge to clarify the “Partridge Amendment” from 2016.  When the half-cent sales tax increase was passed, legislators included a provision to ratchet back the half-cent by one-tenth of a percent for every $20 million generated from online sales taxes.  Unfortunately, the language adopted in 2016 raised questions about how to calculate and apply the tax reduction.  Thus, Senator Partridge brought in SB86 to clarify things.  However, the bill was “hoghoused” in House Tax Committee into a bill to remove the sales tax from food.  The bill was then referred to State Affairs committee, which returned it to the original form.

The Hoghouse amendment got its name from an incident in the 1920s when the building at SDSU used to house pigs was destroyed in a fire.  The deadline for introducing new bills had passed, so to find a way to appropriate money to replace the building, a legislator gutted an existing bill and substituted new language … and the “Hoghouse” amendment was born.

Another legislative maneuver which may happen in the final days of a session is to suspend the rules so new legislation can be introduced.  This happened on Monday, when the Joint Committee on Appropriations suspended the rules and introduced two new bills on behalf of Governor Noem to deal with potential pipeline protests.  SB189 would penalize “riot boosting,” or the practice of paying protestors (also known as “rent-a-mob”).  SB190 would provide a way to reimburse counties and the state for extraordinary expenses related to pipeline construction.

Legislators must pass all bills and joint resolutions by Thursday.  We will return next Monday, March 11, for a three-day run before the Veto break.

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